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Questions from August 1999
Q: Recently, in the August 1995 issue of Earth magazine, i
read an article on the Titanic Dinosaurs of South America. On page 28
of the article, mention is given to a dinosaur labled Amphicoelias
fragillimus. Fragillimus was identified in 1878, based upon a single
10-foot-long vertebra. Supposidly this bone has since been lost,
hence fragillimus not being included in the list of giant sauropods.
Try as i might, i have been unable to come up with any related
information. Did this really exist or was this some hoax? Is
Amphicoelias fragillimus truly the king of the sauropods, or only some
legend? Your help is appreciated
from Joe P, NC, USA; August 30, 1999
A: It wasn't a hoax. Amphicoelias fragillimus was described by the respected paleontologist Cope in 1877. The single specimen that he described is now lost, but based on his description, this sauropod would have been 170 feet long! Unfortunately, no other fossil material belonging to that particular species has been found yet. A few fossils of the genus Amphicoelias have been found, but belonged to a smaller dinosaur (and belong to a defferent species, A. altus.
Q: How do birds breathe?
from Nate M, Bristol, VA, USA; August 30, 1999
A: Birds breath using a unique system in which air follows a one-way route through the respiratory system. This system is unlike our lungs, in which the air backtracks where it came from. Their system of respiration (breathing) is very efficient - much more efficient than ours is.
Birds have two relatively small lungs (where gas exchange occurs), but the lungs are augmented by bellows-like air sacs (where no gas exchange occurs) that keep the lungs perpetually inflated (even when the bird is exhaling). Our lungs which alternately fill and empty out. The bird's respiratory system takes up 20% of a birds's volume (our repiratory system takes up only 5% of our volume).
In the bird's respiratory system, air first flows through air sacs (located even inside their hollow bones) that direct fresh, oxygenated air into the tube-like lungs (parabronchi, where gas exchange occurs) when the bird inhales AND when it exhales.
This system increases birds' respiratory efficiency and gives them enough oxygen to flight requirements.
Q: What were the dinosaurs that lived during
the triasic period?
from Claudia C., Chicago, IL, USA; August 30, 1999
A: For a list of Triassic period dinosaurs, listed by continent, click here.
Q: Is there an animal which has no jaw bone? If so would it be a lizard?
from Shane D., Washington, Indiana, USA; August 28, 1999
A: Lots of animals don't have jaws. In fact, the first vertebrates were jawless fishes. Some modern-day jawless fish are lampreys and hagfish. There are many other jawless animals, but lizard all have jaws.
Q: We have a complete dinosaur foot print and would like to know if there is a web site of dinosaur foot print pictures so we could identify the track with the dinosaur that made it.
from k.b., Ft. Worth, Texas, USA; August 28, 1999
A: I don't know of one with a lot of pictures, but here's a good page page on dinoaur trackways (http://members.aol.com/paluxy2/ovrdino.htm). Also, it's virtually impossible to attach a particular dinosaur genus to a trackway.
Q: Why did dinosaurs rule the earth for so long?
from Patricia D., Monrovia, MD, USA; August 27, 1999
A: Because dinosaurs were well suited to the Mesozoic Era environment and thrived; although many genera of dinosaurs went extinct throughout the Mesozoic, other genera replaced them. Eventually, when the environment changed (during the K-T extinction 65 million years ago), they could not adapt, and died out (except for some theropods that had evoled into birds).
Q: Why doesn't the "Vote for your Favorite Dinosaur"
section work currently?? I tried to get in but there was a message
saying NO DATA.
from Jimmy L., Georgia, USA; August 27, 1999
A: Thanks for letting know about the problem. Last time I uploaded the file, an error must have occurred when I uploaded the newest version. I've fixed that problem, but they're still mostly voting for T. rex.
Q: WHATS THE AVERAGE AMOUNT OF BONES FOUND IN A DINOSAUR
from D.U., LANCASTER, California, USA; August 26, 1999
A: I've never seen an average number calculated, but if it were done, it would be pretty low. Most dinosaurs are known from only a few bones. Some are only known from a single tooth.
Q: DID BULLS EVOLVE FROM TRISEROTOPS?
from FERGUS MC, BS.AS., Argentina; August 25, 1999
A: No. Bulls are mammals, which branched off from pelycosaurs during the late Carboniferous period to the early Triassic period.
Q: How strong was the K.T. impact?
from Rolando V., Vancouver, BC, Canada; August 24, 1999
A: For information on the relative impacts of the major extinctions, see this page.
Q: Was the pangaea continent the fisrt stage when earth got formed?
from Rolando V., Vancouver, BC, Canada; August 24, 1999
A: No, the continental plates have been drifting ever since the Earth's crust formed, billions of years ago. The supercontinent Pangaea existed about 200 million years ago (and started to break up during the middle of the Mesozoic Era). For more information on continental drift, click here.
Q: Where have most dinosuars been found? And which dinosaur has been found the most
from Rolando V., Vancouver, BC, Canada; August 24, 1999
A: Most dinosaurs have been found in western North America, but that's also where most digs have been. Other productive areas are Argentina, the Isle of Wight (off England), and parts of China and Mongolia. For a list of dinosaur find locations (listed by continent, country, and state/province), click here. Hadrosaurs (the duck-billed dinosaurs) seem to have been the most common dinosaurs.
Q: WAS ONE OF THE BIGGESTEST DINOS IN WATER?
from JOEY D'A., ROCHESTER< NY, USA; August 23, 1999
A: No dinosaurs lived in the water, but there were many other reptiles that lived in the water during the time of the dinosaurs, like ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mososaurs.
Q: WHAT OTHER LONG NECKED DINOSAURS ARE THERE?
from Mary B., GOSFORD, NSW, Australia; August 19, 1999
A: The sauropods included Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Brachiosaurus, Ultrasauros, Janenschia, Mamenchisaurus, and many, many others.
Q: Did a man named Marsh discover the brontosaurus?
from ?; August 19, 1999
A: The American paleontologist Othniel C. Marsh described and named Apatosaurus in 1877. A few
years later, in 1879, he described and named another fossil, Brontosaurus. It turned out that the
two dinosaurs were actually two species of the same genus. The earlier scientific name,
Apatosaurus, was adopted, so Brontosaurus is now called Apatosaurus.
For more information on Apatosaurus, click here.
Q: What dinosaours lived in the area that is now Indiana? Please
write back ASAP ( this is a homework assignment.) Thanks a lot!
from Lauren K., Muncie, IN, USA; August 19, 1999
A: Many fossils have been found in Indiana, USA, including mastodonts and mammoths (ice age mammals), but no dinosaurs that I know of. For lists of dinosaurs found in other states (and other provinces and countries), click here.
Q: How do you know what the Dinosaurs's skin texture and thickness was if the skin can't be fosselized?
from Amanda H, Friendswood, TX, USA; August 18, 1999
A: There is some fossilized dinosaur skin, but it is very rare, like all fossils of soft tissues.
Q: Where can i get a megalodon tooth? Catalog? or do I have to play
from Scott R., Renton, Washington, USA; August 17, 1999
A: Lots of fossil shops have them for sale. You can either look up fossil stores in your local phone book or do a web search for them (or do a lot of paleontological work and probably find something else).
For inoformation on this giant, extinct shark, click here.
Q: What were the names of some of the plants that dinosaurs ate?
from Trent, Australia; August 17, 1999
A: Ferns, cycads, horsetails, club mosses, conifers, and seed ferns. For more information on dinosaurs and plants, click here.
Q: Do dinosaurs have tongues? If so, how big are they?
from Rohan, Australia; August 17, 1999
A: Yes, dinosaurs did have tongues. Large dinosaurs probably had large tongues; small dinosaurs probably had small ones. Since soft tissue (like tongues) rarely fossilize, the actual sizes of the various tongues are mostly unknown.
Q: Were dinosaurs' noses/snouts made of bone or cartilage?
from Mitchell, Australia, USA; August 17, 1999
A: Bone. Dinosaurs did not have a facial structure like humans. Their snout was an integral part of their facial bones.
Q: Why did a Pteranodon have sharp things on its wings?
from Chris Australia; August 17, 1999
A: Those sharp things were three tiny, clawed fingers (the fourth finger was much longer and supported the wing). The tiny fingers were probably not very useful for defense; its best defense was speed and its sharp beak. For more information on Pteranodon, click here.
Q: Did dinosaurs have ears?
from Kaylah, Australia; August 17, 1999
A: Like other reptiles, they could hear using ears, but they didn't have large, external ears like people do. They probably just had two holes (one on each side of the head) with which they detected sounds.
Q: How long did dinosaurs stay in their eggs?
from Kaitlin, Australia; August 17, 1999
A: No one knows. Although many fossilized dinosaur eggs have been found, they don't give us any information on how long they took to hatch.
Q: Which dinosaur was born first?
from Mathew, Australia; August 17, 1999
A: The oldest-known dinosaur group is Eoraptor, which lived about 228 million years ago. For more information on Eoraptor, click here.
Q: how many years did Ankylosaurus live for ?
from Walt B., wellington, new zealand; August 16, 1999
A: If you mean an individual Ankylosaurus, I've never seen an estimate of an Ankylosaurus' life span. If you want to know how long the genus survived, Ankylosaurus were around for roughly 15 million years (from 70 million to 65 million years ago).
For more information on the Ankylosaurus, click here. For some information on dinosaurs' life spans, click here.
Q: What was the name of the huge flying lizard that lived at the same time as dinosaurs, and what's the translation of this name?
from ?; August 16, 1999
A: Pterosaurs (meaning "Winged lizards") were the group of flying lizards thatlived during the Mesozoic. Some were huge, but some were small. For more information on the many different Pterosaurs, click here.
Q: What was the name of the largest Raptor that ever lived?
from Ali H., Spanaway, Washington, USA; August 16, 1999
A: The largest-known raptor (dromaeosaurid) is Utahraptor, which was about 20 feet long (6.5 m) and may have weighed about 1 ton. For more information on Utahraptor, click here.
Q: Did dinosaurs migrate?
from Loren S., Anaheim Hills, CA, USA; August 16, 1999
A: Some dinosaurs probably migrated, for food sources and/or giving birth. Some likely migrators were duck-bills (hadrosaurs), Iguanodons, and some sauropods.
Q: How did dinosaurs react to one another?
from Meghan M., Anaheim Hills, CA, USA; August 16, 1999
A: It depends on the dinosaurs. If a hungry meat-eater came across a smaller and slower dinosaur, it probably reacted by eating it. If a plant-eater came across a meat-eater, it probably ran away. If the dinosaurs were members of a herd, they may have had many different interactions, including that of mother and baby, mates, or rivals for dominance.
Q: what plants does Ankylosaurus eat?
from walt b., wellington, New Zealand; August 15, 1999
A: Ankylosaurs ate low-lying plants. I haven't heard of any Ankylosaur coprolites or fossilized stomach contente being found, so its exact diet is as yet unknown. Some of the available low-lying plants from the late Cretaceous period include: ferns, shorter cycads, horsetails, smaller club mosses, shrubby conifers, and/or the newly-evolved flowering plants. For more information on Ankylosaurs, click here.
Q: What are the bodily features of the Dimetrodon ?
from Guy, Melbourne, Australia; August 14, 1999
A: The most prominent features were its huge sail and its big, toothed mouth. For more information on Dimetrodon, click here.
Q: which dinosaur had the biggest footprint (and the smallest)?
from ?; August 14, 1999
A: It's not usually possible to match a particular footprint with a particular dinosaur, only groups can be matched (by size of footprint, number of toes, etc.) The biggest footprints probably belonged to the biggest dinosaurs, the Jurassic period sauropods. The smallest footprints belonged to the smallest dinosaurs.
Q: which dinosaur had the tallest (and longest) sail.?
from ?; August 14, 1999
A: Very few dinosaurs had sailbacks. Some sailbeacked dinosaurs were: Spinosaurus (with the largest-known sail), Ouranosaurus, and Amargasaurus.
Q: Were butterflys there at that time?
from Rhiannon s, Alkland, nz; August 13, 1999
A: Butterflies evolved during the Cretaceous period anout 130 million year ago, when flowering plants also apeared. For more information on butterflies, click here.
Q: how many types of dinosors have been found in cailfornia?
from James H, somerset, CA, USA; August 13, 1999
A: I don't know of any dinosaurs found in California, but many other fossils have eben found there, including Smilodon fatalis* (sabertooth tiger). For lists of dinosaurs found in other states (and other provinces and countries), click here.
Q: Have the dinosaurs reproductor organs?
from Facundo A., Buenos Aires, Argentina; August 13, 1999
A: They must have in orer to reproduce, but there are no fossilized imprints of them.
Q: what is the main diet that the dinosaurs eat, to be specific
what does meat eating and plant eaters eat regularly, and can you give me a
full biography of a velociraptor , what it eats, where it lives ,and does it
from zohar g., Houston, Texas, USA; August 12, 1999
A: For information on dinosaur diets, click here. For information on Velocirator, click here. All the dinosaurs probably reproduces by laying eggs.
Q: When did the most dinosaurs live in which country and time
from Nelson, New Zealand; August 12, 1999
A: Most dinosaur fossils are from the late Cretaceous period. Big concentrations of dinosaurs have been found in western North America, Mongolia, parts of China, and Argentina (but there are many, many places that haven't been explored yet). For a list of dinosaur fossil locations by continent and country, click here.
Q: How did the Tyrannosaurus store energy?
from Naomi L., Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; August 11, 1999
A: T. rex (and the other dinosaurs) probably with fat reserves (like modern-day lizards, which store fat reserves in their tails).
Q: I need your help!!!!, I have a report of stegosaurus, and I have found nothing about this dino, Please help me!!!!
from Juliana K., Romosher, Escazú, Costa Rica; August 11, 1999
A: For an information sheet on Stegosaurus, click here. Don't forget to click on the links that are on that page, they will lead you to more information about when this dinosaur lived, which dinosaurs lived with it, etc.
Q: is there an actual name for when the asteroid hit the earth and made the dinosaurs become extinct? Where is the yucatan peninsula?
from dinah d., Goose Creek, SC, USA; August 11, 1999
A: No one has given that asteroid (or comet or ...) a name. The Yucatan peninsula is in eastern Mexico, jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico. For more information on the Alvarez extinction theory, click here.
Q: Who lived on earth first man or Dinosaurs?
from ?; August 10, 1999
A: Dinosaurs evolved over 200 million years before people evolved.
Q: How many Dinosaurs were there?
from Roy U., Auckland, New Zealand; August 9, 1999
A: See the dinosaur faq's above.
Q: why did dinosaur's grow a giant size?
from Shanice F., Winter Park, FL, USA; August 9, 1999
A: That is one of the most interesting questions about dinosaurs. Unfortunately, no one knows why some of the dinosaurs (and some other reptiles) grew to be so enormous.
Q: What is the weight of Muttaburrasaurus?
from Hayley, Australia; August 8, 1999
A: Muttaburrasaurus perhaps weighed about from 1100 kg to 4 tons. For more information on Muttaburrasaurus, click here.
Q: which dinosaur had the biggest frill?
from ?; August 8, 1999
A: Pentaceratops. A recently discovered Pentaceratops skull was 9.8 feet (3 m) long, making it the largest skull of a land animal ever found, even bigger than Torosaurus.
Q: what dinosaurs (besides T. Rex) had two fingers?
from ?; August 8, 1999
A: All the tyrannosairids had two-fingered hands. The tyrannosairids included Albertosaurus, Alectrosaurus, Alioramus, Chingkankousaurus, Daspletosaurus, Gorgosaurus, Nanotyrannus, Tarbosaurus, and, of course, Tyrannosaurus rex.
Q: what is the earleist reptile found
from ?; August 8, 1999
A: Casineria kiddi, (meaning "Cheese Bay" named for the Scotish Bay where the fossil was found) a newly found reptile from Scotland, may be the oldest reptile. This 8 inch (20.5 cm) long quadruped dates from about 340 million years ago. Most of its length was in its 5 inch (13 cm) long tail. This tiny reptile had five fingers on each hand.
Q: Can I see some pictures of dinosaur teeth
from Anne J., Albany, New York, USA; August 9, 1999
A: For some drawings of dinosaur teeth, click here.
Q: Is there a dinasour called the Sharp Tooth Dinasour?
from Judy N., Kingston, Ontario, Canada; August 7, 1999
A: According to my six-year old, Sharp tooth is T. rex in "The Land Before Time" cartoon movie.
I was wondering something about one of my favourite dinosaurs!
Was Spinosaurus born/hatched with a fully formed sail, or was it a sign of maturity?
from Brad, Woodville, Ontario, Canada; August 6, 1999
A: Interesting question. Only adults have been found (and they're fragmentary fossils), so there is no fossil evidence to document sail development. If the sail was used for thermal regulation, the young would need it. If it was for display purposes, then it might develop as the dinosaurs matured.
Q: QuI was looking at the dinosaurs from Antarctica, and one was an unnamed Hadrosaur from the early Jurassic! Didn't hadrosaurs evolve later? I'm pretty sure an early Jurassic specimin would be the earliest to live anywhere!
from Brad, Woodville, Ontario, Canada; August 5, 1999
A: You're right - that was an error (and I've fixed it). The oldest-known hadrosaur is Protohadros, from Texas, USA. It lived during the Cretaceous period, about 95.5 million years ago.
Q: How many teeth did bracioasaurus have.
from Lynne F., Cinncinnati, Ohio, USA; August 4, 1999
A: Brachiosaurus had 26 chisel-like teeth on top jaw and 26 on the bottom for a total of 52 teeth. For more information on Brachiosaurus, click here.
Q: What was the smartest dinosaur?
from Matt W., USA; August 3, 1999
A: The Troodontids (like Troödon) were probably the smartest dinosaurs. For more information on dinosaur intelligence, click here.
Q: How big are dinosaurs?
from John L., silverton, ID, USA; August 3, 1999
A: The smallest dinosaurs were about 3 feet (1 m) long. The biggest were well over 100 feet (30 m) long. For more information on dinosaur sizes, click here.
Q: CAN EMUS FLY AND WHAT IS GLACIER MADE OUT OF AND WHATIS A ROACHES COLOR OF BLOOD
from Ruben C., Laredo, TX, USA; August 3, 1999
A: It sounds like you're doing one of the Find It! puzzles in LIttle Explorers. The answers are all in LIttle Explorers, at: LIttle Explorers. Just look up emu, glacier, and roach and read the entries.
Q: Did dinosaurs live in Ontario, and were they fossilized here? If not, why???
from Brad, Woodville, Ontario, Canada; August 2, 1999
A: I don't know of any dinosaurs found in Ontario, but a lot of dinosaurs have been found in other parts of Canada. For a list of Canadian dinosaurs (listed by province), click here.
Generally, dinosaur fossils are found in exposed sedimentary rock (making the digs much easier) from the Mesozoic Era. Badlands are a good place to find fossils, since erosion has done a lot of the work of exposing the fossils. There are many reasons for not finding dinosaurs in a particular location. Dinosaurs may not have lived in the area (it may have been a desert or underwater during the Mesozoic Era, when dinosaurs lived). If dinosaurs did live there, the environment may not have made the process of fossilization likely or the fossils may be buried in hard-to-find places.
Q: Is it true that Saichania had armor on it's belly?
from at, ?; August 2, 1999
A: Yes, belly armor and back armor have been found for Saichania. Other ankylosaurs may have also had body armor, but none has been found yet. For more information on Saichania, click here.
Q: What types of plants did the plant eating Dinosaurs eat? Can please provide me with specific names and pictures of these plants?
from Stefan W, Sinspelt, Germany; August 2, 1999
A: The only way to know exactly which plants a particular dinosaur ate is to find its fossilized stomach remains or coprolites (fossilized dung) containing digested plant material. Fossilized stomach remains are extremely rare, and coprolites are hard to match up to a particular dinosaur.
Given these limitations, all you can do is guess a dinosaur's diet based on the type of teeth the dinosaur had (could it eat soft or tough plant material), where it lived (climate, habitat, etc., which aren't generally known), and which plants were around during that particular time period (for plants that lived during the mesozoic, click here). For most dinosaurs, you just have to guess (given the constraints listed above) among likely plants, including cycads, horsetail, conifers, ferns, and many others.
For more information on dinosaur diets, click here.
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